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that it was true in terms that could not have been more emphatic had they been framed by Mr Kensit himself. Others spoke of systematic treachery, of conspiracy within the Church to undermine it; and not a single voice was heard in denial. No admission could have been more unwilling, none more complete;1 and it settled the main point in a court which (to admit the strange distinction which now passes everywhere) is the only one in this country which Church Catholics will acknowledge that is to say, it was a "spiritual" court. Controversialists by the hundred rushed to kick up the dust about the main point thus settled, but we must not suffer it to be hidden in that way.
So much, then, having been agreed upon, and the only doubt being as to whether the Romanising priests in the English Church were few or many, what should the bishops have done? Considering that the offenders whom they condemned are guilty of a most grave breach of trust; considering that priestly treachery is as bad as any; considering that to permit such offences, in knowledge of them and with power to prevent, is not mercy but complicity-it might have been expected that the bishops would declare their determination to put the offenders out of the Church, unless they turned again and forswore betrayal. But every such declaration was expressly withheld. Remember
that we are not speaking now of High Church parsons who insist on determining minor points of ritual and ceremonial as they please, nor even of extreme High Churchmen who go farther yet. These are all embraced in a reasonable, or at the least an intelligible, desire for "comprehension. We speak of the few or many priests who were described in the Upper House of Convocation as false to the engagements under which they hold their benefices, as "ecclesiastical marauders," as alien to the Church and employed in undermining its doctrine. The desire for comprehension cannot possibly include such as these ; yet after their presence in the Church was acknowledged, and after the business they are about there was unflinchingly described, they found themselves still safely covered by the fear that prosecution might be thought persecution. "Prosecution is a long way off yet." That was the last word of the Episcopal debate its definite conclusion; and Romanists and Ritualists alike come under its shelter.
Can the Protestantism of the Church be called supersensitive for taking alarm at such an outcome of the conference? Might not its Catholics have been expected to protest against a comprehension which includes, by allowance, treachery to the teaching of the Church? The alarm was not only natural but
1 See "Looker-on" in last month's 'Maga,' or the number for June 1898, where the avowals of the bishops are fully set forth.
righteous, and the same thing may be said of the expectation. Suppose an honest repugnance in both our Church parties to "the doctrines that brought about the Reformation," and they must have gone in a body, one would think, to demand the exclusion of priests who live upon the Church while betraying it. Are they few? Then what risk of disturbance in depriving them of their opportunities? Are they many? Then how needful the work of purgation. As a matter of fact, there was no such combination to protest, nor any approach to it. But why not? Why not, since both parties profess a care for the stability of the Church, and since both must have known that such a course of agreement would heal these raging dissensions almost completely and at once? It is a question that I propose to leave unanswered. Yet there should be little risk in saying that not to do what common policecourt honesty suggests as the right thing to do, and not to do it though a way of reconciliation would thereby be thrown open, is a great misfortune and a bad sign. That there is a certain number of false corrupting spirits in the Church; that they are justly feared and not unjustly loathed by Church Protestants; that Church Catholics, upon whom they bring suspicions which are the bane of the Church, equally deny association with them, all this is known. It
is also known that the bishops think they need the support
of public opinion. in these circumstances Church Protestants did not agree with Church Catholics to eject the perjured schemers who are so obnoxious to both, or why the Church Catholics did not suggest alliance for the same purpose-these things remain unknown.
Perhaps the Church Protestants thought such a proposal hopeless. Perhaps the Catholics made the mistake of identifying attack upon the Romanising priests in the Church with attack upon themselves. Either by error or intention, they did immediately rise to the charge and answer it as if it had been aimed at them, which was in any case unfortunate. No doubt the more extreme men of the High Church party are also accused, but with a difference which they should have been the first to insist upon and still more sharply define. The means of doing so were easy enough-those that I have just indicated; and how clear it is that after denouncing all sympathy with the insidious renegades who use their places in the Church to set up little poperies of their own-how clear it is, I say, that they might then defend more heartily and hopefully all that is by any means defensible in their ceremonial practice! But that was not their chosen way. Heedless that the Protestant cry of to-day is a cry against domestic treachery, which is by no man defensible; heedless, too, that the Protestantism of the time is silent before High Church ritual till it ripens into Roman
ism, insinuates transubstantia- and it is now clear that in tion, sets up confessional boxes, both relations the Catholics and fumbles after a spiritual hold themselves apart, conauthority beyond the bishops temptuous of Protestantism and behind the Reformation and rejecting State authority. the Ritualists plunged into their There is even some doubt as to grand mistake. Moderate High whether the more pronounced Churchmen joined forces with Church Catholics will accept the most advanced to fling the the authority of the bishops whole Catholic party between if the right to preach certain the Protestant members of the doctrine or to engender certain Church and its direct sub- ideas is by them denied. It is verters, for whom "comprehen- conceivable that the bishops sion" seemed to be demanded will stand by the supremacy of too. the Queen-it is certain that many Church Catholics will continue to deny it; refusing obedience to the doctrinal interpretations of the Privy Council, whether obeyed by their bishops or not. The bishops are alowed to be capable of forming a spiritual court, and therefore one that is worthy of respect; but yet, to judge by what we now read and hear, there is some doctrine, and some that Church Protestants most abhor, so infixed in the Catholic mind
This was not a way to reconcile Church Protestants to the dubious ritual of Church Catholics, or to allay fears that were stronger when there was less cause for them. unconsidered laity were roused; the politics of Protestantismwhich will not allow of sacerdotal domination revived in full force; and before Parliament met the whole Church, the whole country it might be said, was arrayed into two hostile camps, between which the last words of challenge and defiance had passed. The debate that was raised in the House of Commons by Mr Samuel Smith had little significance in itself. Legislative interference at any rate at this point is as undesired as undesirable. Yet the debate had its use in bringing out more clearly the breadth and depth of the division between the two parties in the Anglican Church, henceforth to be named the Catholic party and the Protestant party by the choice of each. How they really stand to one another and to the State could not be known too soon;
the true doctrine of the Church that the bishops will in vain forbid its inculcation. Yet now that it is arraigned it must be condemned: upon that the awakened Protestantism of the country-which is not only a religion, but (may it ever be remembered!) Protestant for social and political reasons of profound importance - will insist. Condemnation may be followed by secession, which, though sad, would at any rate be an honest movement, and leave more honesty in the place of its departure. If not followed by secession, ejection must ensue: ejection from the Church of all who
would remain to de-Protestantise its formularies and its faith.
Sir William Harcourt and Mr Balfour agree that for this unpleasant but necessary business no new Parliamentary legislation is needed. There is authority enough for the purpose where it is most respected by the reactionists to sacerdotalism; and there is also a general agreement, I think, that the bishops propose to use this power in a wise if much-belated way. The Archbishop of Canterbury, whose speech in the House of Lords the other day was most becoming to the subject and himself, rightly interprets the feeling of the laity, acknowledging that the Church is not its priests alone. his speech he said: "All this agitation among the laity arises very much more from a belief that the doctrines of the Church of England are imperilled, than from a dislike to the ceremonies which have been introduced in various churches outside the ordinary ceremonies sanctioned by the Church." This is perfectly true, but not till it is read together with a sentence dropped later in the speech, where the Archbishop recognises that ritual may be to doctrine what gesture is to the spoken word. Careful of what he says, he yet puts all that we think about many. things ritualistic in a few syllables on the use of the word
a sort of introduction to the Church of Rome." It is. But 66 mass is a word of lawful use, while many things in the extreme Anglo-Catholic ritual are unlawful-intentional violations of law; and at the same time, alone and in combination, a yet more direct and meaning "introduction to the Roman Church." They prepare the ground, as the common saying is; "accustoming the people (it is Dr Temple who speaks now) "to a ritual like that which they would find in the Church of Rome." Now, although it is true that we of the laity are far less concerned with ceremonial than with doctrine, we like not these unlawful clearings of the ground.
Yet it will be enough for contentment if the archbishops, in working out their plan of judicial intervention, deal straitly with the more defiant offenders and such as are made outlaws by their own contumacy. We shall be satisfied if further they remember, what has evidently been a frequent thought with them, that when once the conflict begins there can be no turning back in the middle of it; and if also they bear this in mind whenever they sit in judgment. In the Reformed Church of England, a spiritual court, dealing with the Romanising sappers of the Church by spiritual argument alone, may represent the priesthood very well, but not very well the laity. This is because Protestantism is not only a religion, but, in a very high sense, a polity. As to that, however, we must perforce be silent. We
may be Protestant if we please on religious grounds, Protestant on social grounds, but we may not say why. To do that would be insulting to Roman Catholics, as Mr W. Redmond fiercely reminded Mr Samuel Smith in the House of Commons debate, careful as the poor man had been and melting as were his apologies for referring to the confessional. And indeed it is better not to say why, though better above all things never to forget for good and bad influences on citizenship keep their character, and are to-day what they were in the time of Elizabeth. But though we cannot vindicate our Protestant preferences without offence, and will not do so for fear of offending, the Spiritual Court which is about to be set up will know why we cherish certain schoolpolicies, hearth - policies, and what our theories are as to freedom of mind and the making of men. And these things the Spiritual Court will be Court will be good enough not to forget amid its jangling interpretings of King Edward the Sixth's prayer-book.
The Prince Consort said of our system of Government by Cabinet, that it worked as a check to the personal ambition of individual Ministers. The ambition he had in mind is unknown in England, though it is true that on a certain occasion the government of the country was all but snatched out of the Queen's hands. The exexplanation of that case is, how
ever, that the offending Minister knew not what he did, being in a state of exaltation unusually high. Yet this saying of the Prince Consort's was true in a sense of considerable importance. The solidarity of the Cabinet, its joint and several responsibility, the presentation to the world of its deeds and plans as the plans and deeds of a committee and of no individual, has many great conveniences, of which one is that Ministers are forbidden to make play in the country on their own account: nothing must be done to compromise, to forestall, to
overpass their colleagues. Till lately this wholesome rule has been scrupulously observed. Lately, however, the whole system of government in England has been giving way, just as the Prince above-named foresaw when nothing in the country appeared more fixed and stable than its political machinery. Seemingly outworn, it weakens in various ways, but mainly in the sinking of the authority of the House of Commons, and the growing Ministerial habit of going past the House for direct communication with the people. A democratic change, of course, but yet an obvious change for the worse; and a break in the solidarity of Cabinet Government would be a very natural result of it.
But are there any signs of such a break? There are, though, so far, none of a particularly formidable character. Something of the kind appeared when, at a dark and anxious time, Mr Chamberlain spoke